HANSCOM AIR FORCE BASE, Mass. (AFNS) --
An Air Force Life Cycle Management Center employee at Hanscom Air Force Base recently responded to a social media plea from someone she didn’t know who lived more than 3,000 miles away.
Hannah Germain, a Palace Acquire trainee for Acquisition Excellence Operating Location-Hanscom, credits her reaction to a wingman day scenario she participated in only days earlier.
A real-life scenario played out for Germain on social media Nov. 21, the night before Thanksgiving.
“While scrolling through my Facebook newsfeed, I saw a post from a woman in a small Facebook group I belong to,” said Germain.
The post simply said, “I need someone to talk to please.” She added that the post included three bitmoji cartoon images.
“One was of her character holding a sign that said, ‘I suck;’ another was the character sitting on the floor in a corner with her head against the wall and knees tucked up; and the third was her character in a chair with what appeared to be alcohol and the words ‘I give up,’” Germain said.
Despite not knowing the woman, Germain commented on the post saying the woman could message her through social media.
“The woman messaged me pretty quickly and explained the stressors in her life,” she said. “She said that she wanted to ‘give up.’”
Germain then asked the woman what “give up” meant to her.
“At this point I was outside my comfort zone, so I called a friend who had training in suicide prevention,” the Hanscom employee said. “She told me what I had learned during our wingman day, to ask outright if they are planning on killing themselves.”
Germain received back, “IDK.”
After reading that, she asked where the woman lived and placed her in contact with a 24-hour crisis hotline at a local hospital. In addition to talking to the woman for more than an hour, she followed up throughout the weekend.
The woman Germain connected with called the hotline and scheduled an appointment with a therapist. Germain continues to reach out and offer her support.
Germain noted the suicide prevention exercise at Hanscom AFB encouraged her to be direct.
“During a suicide prevention exercise, Senior Airman Alyssa Lucero-Pick asked us to turn to the person next to us and ask outright, ‘Are you planning on killing yourself?,’” she said. “The overall response from the group was nervous laughter.”
During a wingman day last month, Lucero-Pick, 66th Medical Squadron mental health technician, told employees if confronted with someone who demonstrates suicidal thoughts, be direct.
“I understand that talking about suicide is scary and it’s something we don’t want to think about it, especially when it comes to our friends and family,” said Lucero-Pick
. “We would all like to believe that if someone we love was struggling, they would reach out and ask for help-but that’s not always the case.”
“The training Senior Airman Lucero-Pick provided during our wingman day gave me the confidence to reach out and ask the right questions and provide the right resources,” Germain said. “It made all the difference in that situation.”
Lucero-Pick acknowledges the difficulty in being direct.
“Becoming more comfortable with talking about suicide and asking if someone wants to kill him or herself may prevent someone we love from harming themselves,” she said.
If you or someone you know is experiencing difficulties this holiday season, there are several local organizations offering help.
Civilian employees have the Employee Assistance Program. EAP is available at 800-222-0364.
Military families can also receive mental health, educational and financial services through Military One Source at www.militaryonesource.com
or 24-hour phone service is available at 800-342-9647.